We often hear that certain foods are good for us because they are full of anti-oxidants. This is because many chronic diseases, including cancer, create what is called chronic oxidative stress. Oxygen is essential to our cells’ workings, yet it is an unstable gas and reacts rapidly with many different chemicals. Our blood is what delivers the oxygen to our cells, but the delivery system is delicate and can be stressed by too many oxygenated molecules. Thus, it needs to be carefully regulated by our metabolisms.
The body has a very efficient anti-oxidant system to deal with this challenge, but it can get overwhelmed by toxic
chemicals from our environment, or stress, or any number of disorders. Our immune system can be given a lot of help with diet and exercise, and sometimes with drugs, but it can also be helped out, apparently, with ozone therapy.
Whatever stability oxygen has is related to the fact that it usually comes in the form of a molecule with two oxygen atoms (O2). But ozone (O3) is made up of three oxygen atoms and, in the upper atmosphere, sometimes more (say, O6 and O7). It is formed in the presence of an electric charge. This means that when it breaks down into O2 and O it releases the charge – ozone is actually the source of electrical energy. Ozone is even more reactive than oxygen. Inserting a mixture of O2 and O3 into our blood produces a chain of both immediate and long term reactions. If just the right amount is administered, these reactions stimulate rather than overwhelm our anti-oxidant system, helping to reduce its acidity.
This is not a long term cure, although ozone’s value as a preventative has also been established. Ozone therapy is another example of how modern medical techniques can deal with emergencies such as serious injuries or rapidly growing cancerous tumours. But since chronic oxidative stress has many causes including the chemicals found in processed food and air pollution, a genuinely healthy society can only be achieved by using treatments such as ozone therapy thoughtfully and in the proper context.
I found out about ozone through my dentist, who uses it to control bacteria, viruses, and fungi when he cleans cavities and tiny root canals and performs other work in my germ-filled mouth. He is using ozone as a disinfectant, which has actually been done for more than a century. Soldiers in World War I had their wounds cleaned with ozone-impregnated bandages. Right now, ozone seems to work in cases where bacteria have developed resistance to all available antibiotics. Viral and fungal infections are not affected by antibiotics, and here ozone therapy is exceptionally valuable. If my dentist’s experience is any indication, it is very effective at controlling infections in our mouths.
Ozone’s contribution to chronic illnesses is less certain, but there is good evidence that patients with AIDS and cancer are having their quality of life improved and their lives extended with ozone therapy. Reports on some of these benefits can be found in Ozone, a Medical Breakthrough? An Investigative Documentary, which was selected as one of the outstanding documentaries of 1994 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
However, the best evidence comes from Europe and other parts of the world, not Canada and the United States. While ozone therapy has been used all over the world for generations, it has been denied to North Americans by their authoritarian medical institutions.
In a familiar pattern, medical societies, drug companies, and government agencies (such as the US Federal Drug Agency) have joined forces to suppress the use of ozone for therapeutic purposes. Ozone machines across the US were confiscated by the FDA in the 1950s on the pretext that manufacture of some of their parts had not been approved. These confiscations have continued; 77 ozone generators were seized in 2010 because, in the words of the FDA, “significant deviations from the FDA’s current good manufacturing practice (GMP) requirements for medical devices” had been found in the machines. This news release indicates two things. First, that practitioners in North America are quietly continuing to use ozone therapy, and, second, that the political control of industrial medicine – especially drug companies – is relentless and ongoing.
As mentioned, the success of ozone therapy depends on giving just the right dose. Too much can be very dangerous. Moreover, our respiratory systems are extremely sensitive to air-borne ozone, which is a component of smog. Sunlight reacts with car exhaust to produce what is called ground level ozone that damages our lungs. Opponents of ozone therapy sometimes point to this effect as a reason to ban it, but this is a red herring. Most conventional drugs are highly toxic, especially when used in the wrong concentration, and have caused many deaths, even when properly prescribed. The real reason ozone therapy is being suppressed is that it is cheap and the pharmaceutical industry can’t make money off it.
Much of the information about ozone therapy in this article comes from Velio Bocci, Ozone: A New Medical Drug, Springer, Dordrecht, 2005.